Apple loses automotive executive Doug Field to Ford

Field was vice president of special projects at the company.

Edgard Garrido / reuters

Add another wrinkle to Apple’s oft-rumored efforts to build its own electric vehicle. On Tuesday, Ford announced the hire of Doug Field. The former Tesla executive, known for his involvement in the development of the Model 3, most recently held the position of vice president of special projects at Apple. It’s believed Field oversaw Project Titan.

In his new position of chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer, Field will report to Ford CEO and president Jim Farley. He will oversee Ford’s Embedded Software and Hardware division, which will see him lead development on the automaker’s Blue Oval intelligence stack. It’s expected he will have a say in everything from vehicle controls to enterprise connectivity features and driver assistance technology. For Field, this is something of a return to where everything started. He began his career at Ford back in 1987.

What’s unclear is what this means for Apple’s automotive ambitions. Bloomberg reporter and Apple insider Mark Gurman says it’s bad news for the company. “This is probably the largest setback in a history filled with setbacks for Apple’s car project,” he tweeted. “As I wrote in January, there is no Apple Car launching anytime soon, not 2024, not 2025. Further out now, if ever.” Apple does have executives who could take over Field’s role. For instance, the company recently hired Ulrich Kranz, a former BMW executive who led the development of the i3. All the same, it's never a good sign when a high-profile executive leaves a company.